Territorial Art, Design & Architecture – a transfiguration of spatial and  environmental artistic practices to encounter with global warming



As artists, designers, and architects we are trained to commend on anthropogenic processes closely related with the last two hundred years of densification into urban regions. Early in our education, and later in our professional lives, urban regions and cities become the point of reference for artistic processes, in everything from desires, to success, development, creativity, modernity and today, sustainability. So, when I early in my profession was invited to teach environmental sustainability in Shanghai and work together with a team of architects to develop a concept for a new city in China, I was of course mesmerized and became quickly magnetized by megacities. I was convinced that densification into what is referred to as green and sustainable cities was the key to face global warming. After spending quite some time in Shanghai, I became more aware of the negative impact of rapidly growing cities and economic growth. Urbanization at this speed and scale had consequences way beyond the city limits, causing damage on communities and species, resulting in depopulation and exploitation of rural and peripheral areas, and loss of biodiversity. 

As an architect, I realized, I was in the fore front of a toxic trajectory, limiting my possibilities to take responsibility for my own actions. I was in the hand of a discipline stagnated in urban processes, reliant on the same actions causing global warming in the first place. I lost my trust in architecture and began to question my own role and abilities as an intellectual, academic, and urban middle-class cosmopolitan. My efforts so far had been to make architecture for the sake of commodification, producing more of the same, just a little bit greener, or a little bit more social. I was equipped with theory and rational drawing skills but had no experience from social or ecological knowledge. I was a de-territorialized individual. A human being detached from any fundamental forms of inhabitation with real territories of existence1, meaning the subjectivity in planting a seed in the soil or felling a tree to make timber and build a home, accountable for the consequences of such action. Without practicing these fundamental forms of attachment to real territories of existence, I felt stuck in abstract objective concepts of time and making without any knowledge about the real speeds and efforts of how life takes shape, and therefore completely detached from planetary limits. 

It was during this identity crisis that I decided to redirect my interest into art, design and architecture, and to embark on a journey in search of processes of making as far from the urban norm as possible. I began training myself as an architect not solely depending on knowledge composed in the conventional studio space and computer. Instead, I began making research on existing social and environmentalist practices in peripheries and rural environments to gain social and ecological experience. This became my way of challenging what later became known to me as anthropocentric world views. Since then, I have pursued practice-based research, dependent on building relationships with territories together with organizations, and academic as well as non-academic fields and practitioners, taking on the role as a long-term collaborator or as member, rather than architect. 

 With these experiences, I was presented with the opportunity to do artistic research as senior lecturer at Konstfack University of Art, Craft and Design. I took the opportunity to transform the last eight years of professional metamorphosis into an artistic research project based on my most recent collaborations that I now present in this exposition.

1. Guattari, The three ecologies, 1989


Places, environments, and spaces are important concepts in art, design, and architecture. In the anthropocentric narratives, they are limited by urban norms rooted in ideas of modernity which are linear trajectories, rather than relational and ecological2. These postures dominate projections of human relations to nature, landscapes, territories, and the planet. In times of advanced capitalism, de-territorialized differences are produced for the sake of commodification3Designed environments are transformed into commercialized opportunities and cultivate a false idea of endless resources, driven by power relations that gives urban areas preferential right of interpretation. In this research I question these postures. Further, I argue that they are not part of natural processes but rather structural constructions4. Over time, these structures become narratives promoted in urban areas, with agendas composed by a series of human centered and colonial mechanisms whose objective is to maintain hierarchies, that benefit capitalistic and anthropogenic interests. These urban narratives picture modern man in a position above and separate from the wild. Consequently, urbanity has distanced itself from all that is perceived as periphery and sparsely populated. Stories describing rural death are also part of this narrative. Today, when the largest proportion of people are centered in cities, these narratives become dominant as a collective understanding with an urban perspective that sets the social, cultural, and political agenda. From this viewpoint we understand ourselves as separate from nature. The relational dependency between rural and urban, center and periphery, culture, and nature, is denied. In that detachment and denial, the urban ecology emerges as a center. This linear system is a structural construction detached from planetary limits. Its operations are based on the false notion that everything peripheral is at service for the center.

2 Massey, For Space, 2005

3 Braidotti, 2013

4 Smith & Sparkes, 2008

Artistic Processes

Territorial Art, Design and Architecture explores how to influence artistic processes through territorialized diversities, commons, scales, and speeds taking place in rural environments. The points of departures are the species, activities, practices, productions, cultures, and systems that have become invisible in urban areas, and the lack of rural representation and ecological perspectives in art, design, and architectural disciplines. It is an ongoing collaborative artistic research project that explores how the change of circumstances caused by global warming offers artistic fields the possibility to remediate relationships with non-human worlds. The project looks hereby to allocate its meanings through a series of collaborative hands-on processes of installing ways of inhabitation that work as interfaces for the study of, and engagement with, rural ecologies as public spaces of communality and sense of togetherness5. Inspired by the World of Matter6 project, the experimental processes of installations are efforts to territorialize processes into places intertwined with institutions and academic disciplines as well as non-academic fields. It is also a way of combining the fields of art, design and architectural research, spatial and environmental politics, and visual culture. The objective is to study possible ways to transfigure anthropocentric narratives of division. Further, the objective is to present alternative types of spatial and artistic processes that take place at rural sites where biodiversity is at stake. The goal is to advance knowledge on how to propose projects that not only focus on developing attractive public spaces for citizens and visitors but also aim to transform them into spaces of mutual ecological relationships between urban and rural, human, and non-human worlds.


My work include artistic processes that unfold from: (i) projects that emerge actively rather than assigned passively, in search for long term relations with territorialized transformative initiatives, (ii) projects that are relational rather than linear in search for mutual beneficial territorialized social and ecological conditions, (iii) projects that collect rural oppositional stories rather than stories of urban commodification in search for narratives that present forms of inhabitation based on kinship.


In this exposition I will present a few of the projects more thoroughly, each of them is an interdisciplinary research activity that unfolds through communal inclusion made of study groups. They all took their beginning between 2019 and 2021, and most of them are still ongoing projects.


Avila, 2020

Ahmed, et al., 2015

Oppositional Narratives

Based on the process with students in Shanghai and my past ten years interest in collecting stories in opposition to urban norm, I came across the concept of oppositional narratives, or counter-narratives7.  I realized that the kind of processes I had been exploring could operate as strategical methods of renegotiation to make visible alternatives to the urban-dominated norms. I understood that urban centered processes and norms influenced by anthropogenic thinking in current power structures are given preferential right of interpretation. They become consensus narratives that to a great extent sets the agenda for how politics and institutions agree to solve the challenges of global warming. I began to investigate the urban frame as knowledge constrained to divisional thinking rather than relational, arguing that it must produce an immense gap of perspectives and knowledges. As a direct result of such processes certain narratives become overrepresented in academia and in the media, which for a long time have constrained the climate crisis discourse in referring mainly to urban development. The research activities I present are therefore efforts that seeks narratives in opposition to conceptual limitations rendering the climate crisis as an urban issue. In that sense it is a method to translocate artistic processes in search for other perspectives, knowledges, and projects beyond visions of sustainability biased to perspectives based on urban narratives such as green transition. The main objective of the projects I present is to step out of a sort of urban bubble and enter processes of unlearning, learning, and relearning. My aim is not to argue that urbanity is completely wrong but rather to show that it has become a frame of limitations for artistic practices that seek to face the global challenges of global warming. If artistic disciplines get involved in processes that step out of an urban constraining frame, then the trajectories of division that causes relational conflicts will become visible from the outside. Artistic processes can have a major role in visualizing these social and ecological oppositional narratives that arise in divisional gaps between urban and rural, center and periphery, culture, and nature. As these oppositional narratives from other forms of inhabitation become visible, we can achieve a new understanding of possible reconfigurations of urbanity.

Delgado, 1989




After my first professional experience in Shanghai in 2012, I returned to Sweden with the objective to transform my practice and explore how the discipline could take off in other directions. I began spending time with Gulliga8, a non-profit association of activists making a communal effort to apply permaculture as a way of making social impact by reviving an abandoned former piece of rural land surrounded by neighborhoods considered peripheral to Stockholm. These are districts with high percentage of first- and second-generation immigrants with different ethnic backgrounds and often experts’ cultivators as they come from territories where cultivating was a natural part of the everyday life. As this was now land owned by the municipality which didn’t support their action, the association were constantly threatened with eviction. It was in this challenge that I met with other artists engaged in the struggle, among them Erik Sjödin founder of Gemenskapspraktik9, and Fernando Garcia Dory founder of the arts collective Inland10We began to collaborate with Gulliga. We assisted them with strategies based on artistic processes and interventions to make their efforts visible. In the very end, we were evicted from the land, but friendships and collaborations survived. Today, I still collaborate with the association in another location as well as with Erik and Fernando and others involved. The experience led me to find my way back into the academia, where I began to transfigure my practice one step at the time. The first step was realizing that projects could emerge if I am actively forming relationships with people in their struggle while simultaneously negotiating my role as architect, even if it meant unlearning the ways in which I was taught to layout a project.


The friendship with Fernando led me to become a member of Inland in 2015. As member of the collective, I took on the role as a space builder, pedagogue, and researcher. Simultaneously I began searching for collaborative endeavors to experiment with how the artistic processes could be exercised to compose and produce knowledge about rural inhabitations that address present-day issues of living together and living more ecologically. The objective has been to present, to a broader public, the belief that we cannot solely depend on urban narratives and the idea of rural death with centralization. The collaborations resulted in experiences of a different kind of artistic process that I applied as a form of practice-based research activities. I relocated learning environments to real territories of existence, which meant becoming active in how we acquire experiences that we translate into knowledge as part of an artistic process. I planned my courses in rural and peripheral territories where I already had established a collaboration with environmental associations, movements, institutions, or community of practitioners, in the middle of a social and ecological transformative struggle. Today, this metamorphosing strategy is formalized into a method which include three parallel trajectories that inform each other continuously to unlearn, learn and relearn as we: (1) spend time collecting stories and share experiences that attach artistic disciplines to a real territory of existence, (2) compose knowledge in close collaboration with academic and non-academic disciplines relevant for the territory, (3) develop narratives that manifest ideas that can be built with minimal negative ecological impact.


The projects I present exemplify how I pursue artistic research to investigate artistic processes. In each project I account for strategies, professional role, methods, and objectives as well as the discourses that emerged from the process and its outcome. Finally, in the last section, I reflect on how offspring from this kind of research activities combine and produce knowledge about artistic processes that engage with transfiguration of spatial and environmental practices to deal with global warming.

8 Gulliga, u.d.

9 Sjödin, u.d.

10 Dory, 2009

Coming back to Shanghai

Right at the start of this endeavor, the opportunity to present Territorial Art, Design & Architecture came across. Almost ten years after what led to a turning point in my professional career, I was invited to hold a one-week workshop for art, design, and architecture students at China Academy of Art in Shanghai. I was back where it all started, only this time with many new experiences and perspectives to share. Together we decided to investigate the territorial identity of a suburban area of Shanghai in a territory just in the border of the cities ongoing expansion towards peripheries and the rural. Together we collected stories about social practices active in this territory that opposed to the rapid expansion of urban processes. We came across a community of former farmers that cultivated this land and still was doing so after being displaced by force into high rise condominium areas with no cultivation possibilities. In opposition to the future development plans and to maintain their identity they had decided to continue cultivating the land even if they were refused to live in their old homes and many of them had to commute long distances every day to get there. Since the students came from different art disciplines, they were mixed into interdisciplinary groups to encourage them to transverse their tools and choose free how to collect stories. They spent their time with this community, working the land without any former relations to the site. Instead, it was the stories they found spending time in the territory that became the process and outcome.

The Political Beekeeper's Library by artist Erik Sjödin

Notes and sketches by the students 

Urban & Rural

The history of the word ”urban” goes back to 1820 and contains values and power relations created in times of industrialization when migration started from the countryside to the city. The word was applied to signify what is civilized, modern and cultivated. It was created to describe the life in the city as opposite to rural life, which was seen as barbaric, primitive, and uncivilized. Through my research I argue that this two-hundred-year-old division has resulted in a complete disassociation from ecological systems. They are no longer visible in continuously growing urban areas. Urban norm is given preferential right of interpretation misleading us to believe that we can only achieve sustainability with more of the same. As a result of this, technology and resources are used to develop urban densification into the extreme of megacities. This is a well-established agenda by scholars and scientists, most recently by the environmental philosophy of ecomodernist manifesto11 that resonates with a long history of proposals, arguing that the only way to decrease environmental impact on the planet, is if human beings are detached from the rural through massive and rapid urbanization. This leads me to the question driving my research: what alternative, possible forms of inhabitation, that may result in better relations with the planet, are made invisible by such an agenda? The Many little Hands Apiaries project is an effort to offer art, design, and architectural processes a chance to reflect on its own meaning in a different frame to address this question. The work also questions the traditional idea of a monument. The apiary becomes a new kind of monument in the village, hence, inviting to rethink the form and purpose of what a monument can be.My hope is that this kind of proposal can operate like interfaces, made up by simple constructions assembled with the use of minimal resources. It is an oppositional narrative with one purpose: inspiring to inhabitation activities in better relationship with the biosphere. Here, the Iberian bees give us many little clues about lost relational and situated knowledges about particularities in a territory, its climates, its limits and its opportunities. All part of many small and big systems interweaving.

11 Asafu-Adjaye, et al., 2015

Many Little Hands Apiary Cangas de Onis, Spain

With Many Little Hands Apiary, I put metamorphosing process into practice. In this project, I had multiple roles – professional, Inland member, artistic researcher, and teacher. I explored a series of perspectives together with students, to manifest relational rather than linear ideas about living together with Iberian bees. The project took place in Cangas De Onis, an inland village situated in a depopulated area of Asturias, Spain. The objective with combining my different roles was to open up to a broader dialogue with future architects about my artistic research and to get their input on transfiguration of spatial and environmental artistic practices to encounter with global warming. The workshop made visible for my students how I reposition myself in-between roles as part of making a strategy for a collaborative artistic process where three components are equally important: (A) professional knowledge that offers basic tools to make things visible, (B) artistic research that offers the experimental approach to manifest ideas, and (C) a pedagogical point of view that continuously examines the artistic process as a series of learning and sharing situations. For the students, the building workshop was a starting point before they entered the process of unlearning, learning, and relearning the discipline. Once we were back at the university, they were given the opportunity to articulate their own projects based on the process, methods, and their overall impressions of the experience.


I based the workshop on the design of a construction that could strategically allow reconfigurations as we learned about mutually beneficial and territorialized social and ecological conditions between visitors, beekeepers, and Iberian bees. Therefore, time was not used to design technical aspects of the construction. Instead, we emphasized the process of collecting territorial stories about vernacular knowledge, art, and local architecture. We engaged in posthuman theory, social sciences, agroecology, and animal and cultural studies. The choice to create an apiary in the village emerged from building a relationship with Colombian immigrants with background as beekeepers. Because of socio-political reasons, many Latin Americans are displaced from rural territories and are forced to migrate in search for work in Spain or urban regions in South America. Being immigrants with temporary permissions to stay, they are easy victims of exploitation in occasional under paid jobs. In opposition to this displacement from rural areas globally, these bee-keeping experts took sovereignty in a rural practice, a part of their identity that they had fiercely been detached from. We collected their stories and began composing knowledge to experiment with the configuration of the apiary construction as a rural public space. The translation of knowledge evolved into a narrative that manifest apicultural activities to create a contemporary, resilient, rural ecology and economy in collaboration with our companions, the bees.


The project was realized with the artist collective Inland – together with artists, biologists, beekeepers, apiculture experts and Konstfack spatial design students. The result is a process that host an apiary, home for beehives, and offers the public a spatial experience of remediation and a place to overcome melissophobia, fear of bees. The project reflects on the ongoing trauma of the climate crisis that leads, not only to rapid decrease of biodiversity, but also force displacement of human beings from rural territories. We investigated how architecture can operate as an interface between apiculture and bees. At the same time making a public place to learn about lost relations between humans and pollinators, relearning how we can build interdependent relationships and reconnect with other species. 

The final design of the apiary is the result of limited resources, assorted and reused, first studied through a digital inventory with analogue and digital models and then combined with traditional building techniques. The spatial solutions and choice of location were continuously transfigured in dialogue with apiculture experts reorganizing, adapting and repositioning the construction to achieve the best possible conditions for bees in relation to the territory. My hope is that the apiary architecture can operate as a centerpiece for the village and become a source of inspiration for future communities.

Particularities and Differences

From Many Little Hands Apiary, I learned that there is still time to compose knowledge based on what has been lost from the division of urban and rural. Therefore, I propose that transfiguration of spatial and environmental practices is dependent on further study of relationships that has been lost by binary thinking. The study of apiculture and apiaries was an opportunity to relearn how to compose knowledge, by adopting an Iberian bee perspective. This perspective provided students with a collective consciousness about interdependencies between human and non-humans in a particular territory. Furthermore, the students learned how to best reorganize life to profit from the local conditions, limits, and resources. We discovered many needs shared between humans and bees, such as temperature, profiting from the position of the sun, protection from cold winds and the fundamental importance of shelters. These thoughts laid the foundation for artistic processes that the students proposed later in the course. The result is several interesting projects, considering rural activities as part of their spatial explorations. Together, we reflected on the fact that humans have lived in many ways during a relatively short time on earth, but it is only during the last two hundred years that we have chosen a trajectory towards densification and growing urban regions. This model has been copied all around the world in a monolithic manner and is today a massive consumer of energy and material flows12It is not a coincidence that this change of trajectory also happened during a proposed geological epoch of significant human impact on earth's geology and biosphere, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change13It’s time to work with particularities and differences – particularities in the sense of making efforts to search for the specifics in real territories of existence rather than to rely on ideological concepts, and differences in the sense of allowing a diversity of perspectives to emerge.

12 Christopher, o.a., 2015

13 Steffen, et al., 2018

Presentation of the project together with students at Inland Car

Stable for the Flock Casa de Campo in Madrid, Spain

This research activity centered around the hosting of sheep – locating food cycles and rural ecologies as part of urban ecologies. It demonstrates that urban living environments can, and do, consist of more than human worlds and are often prime sites for human and nonhuman ecologies14. The process experimented with art, design, and architecture to propose a public space where human and nonhuman worlds are relational in an urban setting and propose politics for urban wilds. The Stable for The Flock project built relationships with a cooperative of shepherds, active in a mountain region surrounding the northern part of Madrid. To compose knowledge, I collected stories about the mutual beneficial relations between sheep flocks and shepherds. The relationships between the sheep and shepherds depended on profiting from the best possible relational conditions for pasturing by choosing territory after season. In the summer and autumn, the shepherds spend time with the flock in the mountain, where the temperature is lower, and the pasture remains green. While in the winter and spring, when the mountains fill with snow, shepherds bring the sheep flock down to the valleys.


Today, regenerative rural historical cropping systems where sheep graze in the outskirts of Madrid has been replaced by machines. Apart from being a system dependent on fossil fuels, it will, in the long run, lead to the landscape’s loss of its own sovereignty. Its soil becomes dependent on detached systems of sustainment such as irrigation and fertilizer, rather than maintaining a healthy resilient ecology based on relationships with species grazing and depositing nutrient rich manure on the land that provided their feed. Natural nutrient ecologies are thus broken into linear systems requiring additional high costs for synthetic fertilizers and high amount of water resources for maintenance. To create an oppositional narrative to such anthropocentric trajectory, I organized a multidisciplinary seminar in collaboration with Inland. We applied a building workshop, composing knowledge together with shepherds and the Municipality of Madrid. The aim was to learn about and build a hosting system for a flock of sheep in Casa de Campo, Madrid, the biggest public park in Europe. In this project I took on the role as an architect, researcher, and workshop leader to design a building system that introduces broad public participation and resilient economical modularity to the artistic process.


The stable follows a series of parameters conditioned by temporality, economy, usability adaptation, scalability and mobility. The design offers a shelter for the sheep when they graze in the park from wintertime to spring. Moreover, it offers refuge when they give birth in late winter and early spring, before they are shepherded to the mountains, where they spend summer and fall. The environment is a shared space of educational relational encounters between visitors, sheep and shepherds. It operates as a place to host workshops with school children, artists, surrounding communities and the Inland school of shepherds. During the summer and autumn, it becomes a space for diverse cultural events. To transfigure the course of maintenance for this amount of grass fields, this ongoing artistic process brings 300 sheep and shepherds turning the grass into pastures, to improve soils and prevent fires. This is also an opportunity for citizens of all ages to discover lost, rural relationships in urban areas.

14 (Hinchliffe, M B Kearns, & 2003, Urban wild things: a cosmopolitical experiment, 2005)

Nature and Wilderness

Throughout the short history of urbanization, nature and wilderness have been treated as places to fear, romanticize, shape, conquer or lament. The natural world has been imagined as something to be acted upon rather than as something to act from within15. The research activities I present are efforts to disrupt the urban-rural division and challenge ideas that imagine nature and wilderness as detached from human life. With Stable for The Flock project, we made a common effort to demonstrate that urban areas are dependent on the nature and wilderness in distant lands – also the self-understanding of urban areas depend on nature.  Still, the most important effort with this research activity was to demonstrate how art, design and architectural practices can influence political science and decision making. The project influenced politicians to pursue a direction that unifies humans and nonhuman in a mutual beneficial relationship. From this action, I learned that instead of dividing, artistic processes can accentuate relational systems of ecology in nature and wilderness, also in urban territories, and generate beautiful places and landscapes.

15 Ingold, 2000

Ecologies of Formgiving Lögdeälven River in Västerbotten, Sweden

Over the years it has become important for me to situate my practice in what I already have mentioned as real territories of existence. The aim to transfigure my practice, requires that I act from within the place where I live. Since I live in the region of Västerbotten I began to search for collaborations to start practice-based research activities in the rural areas of the region. I began the process with collecting stories about the many rivers of the region. Through the stories I learned about the enormous social and ecological impact of the rivers. These riverbanks still evolve as the land mass continues to give form to beautiful landscapes and offer home to a series of ecological systems fostering perfect conditions for many species that inhabitate the environment. The rivers bear witness to the past two hundred years of anthropogenic behavior. Resources have been exploited in linear systems such as deforestation and the construction of water dams. The rivers have become victims of non-beneficial relationships with humans, based on activities that profit from these landscapes. In such troublesome relationships, there will also be oppositional narratives. After meeting with an association committed to fishing in Lögdeälven, a forest river, I learned that this river was one of the few rivers in Sweden where plans to build a hydropower plant was stopped, due to activists in the seventies. When the river was saved, a system was organized to share knowledge of how to protect the river for sustainable fishing. In the conversations I had with the river association, I also learned about the Re-Born16 project, that aims to restore the Nordic rivers.


The Lögdeälven river has been spared from hydropower plants, although it has an older history of negative anthropocentric impact. The Swedish transit to industrialization was dependent on timber resources from Norrland (the northern part of Sweden). This was a time before trains and trucks, and the method used for transportation was timber floating. For maximum effectiveness, natural obstacles such as boulders and fallen trees was removed, the natural river flow was altered with the help of concrete and stone walls. This had a negative impact on the ecologies downstream. In conversations with biologists involved in the restoration I learned that rivers have low primary production, therefore its systems are dependent on terrestrially derived organic matter that falls into the stream channel, so called allochthonous material. Organic, as well as fine particulate inorganic material, is trapped by boulders and large wood, often whole trees, that has fallen into the channel. The organic material is decomposed and eaten by shredding insects, which in turn become food for other organisms such as dragonflies and fish. The calmer areas behind the large wood and boulders serve as resting habitat for small animals and fish. In rivers that have been cleared for timber floating, boulders and large wood are rare. Without obstacles in the channel, the water flows quickly, and a large part of the organic and inorganic matter is washed downstream to nearest lake or out into the sea. When food at the bottom of the food web disappears from the system, biodiversity can be negatively affected. Therefore, as part of the work of river restoration, large boulders and trees are reintroduced to the water. This results in a more varied aquatic environment, which leads to less erosion and reduced loss of organic matter.


After spending quite some time in communities along the river I learned that these oppositional narratives also caused conflicts. The communities along the river are part of an identity rooted in previous generations that worked with timber floating. For them, the restoration of the river is seen as a threat to the anthropocentric narrative based on the industrial identity that have become associated with the river. Historically, communities profited from timber floating and water mills that generated economic growth along with industrialization. Some still profiting from the heritage of the industrial era. I realized that this conflict meant that there is a need for ecological mediation as well as cultural negotiation. I used the conflict as a starting point to explore relational interfaces between colliding narratives. Essentially, the cultural transition and the conflict between natural river systems and structural constructions of linear systems in the rivers. What happens on a planetary level plays out in the same way in the scale of rivers. There is a need of common actions along the rivers that remind human beings of the negotiations and transitions required.  From my position I could see the emergence of installations, or monuments, that can become points of references that inspire to restoration of river ecologies.


I got engaged in the restoration project Re-Born and initiated a collaboration between local NGOs, Nordmaling Municipality and Kulturföreningen Huset (KF Huset)17. KF Huset is a cultural non-profit association, in which I am an active member. It is located in a hundred-year-old former school building in the small village Klöse, right by the Lögdeälven river. KF Huset operates as a platform for cultural productions that explore rural narratives through a film making academy, cultural events, and artistic residencies.  I began this research activity spending time with the different associations, as well as the river, following its hiking trail. The design process is organized around communal activities along the river. This includes field studies, workshops, seminars, courses, and exhibitions in KF Huset. The formats that unfold from my research address the question of how fields and disciplines can work cross sectoral in rewilding efforts for environmental restoration. The workshops are organized around an interdisciplinary team based on three dimensions – the scientific, the historical and the artistic. In collaboration with artist Luis Berríos-Negrón18 we have formed a team of researchers: Lina Polvi Sjöberg19, biologist at Umeå University, involved in Re-Born, and Sabine Höhler20, a historian of modern science and technology at KTH University in Stockholm. Together we will host a first research activity that involves art students and communities along the river in May 2022. The objective in the long term is to gather founding to make public art interventions based on the concept of communal spaces for activities of mutual benefits between species, ecologies, and micro scale geo-technological installations.

16 Natura- 2000 and Life, u.d.

17 Kulturföreningen Huset, u.d.

18 Berríos-Negrón, u.d.

19 Sjöberg, u.d.

20 Höhler, u.d.

Confederacy of Villages Forest Kitchen Ecologies


The Confederacy of Villages (ConV) is an international exchange network that connects five socially engaged art initiatives operating in rural communities across Europe, KF Huset in Klöse, Sweden; Inland Village in Cangas De Onis, Spain; Casa delle Agriculture in Castiglione D´Otranto, Italy; Grizedale Art in England and Another Art Village, Armenia  Through artistic residencies and professional exchanges, the aim is to develop innovative concepts for creative problem-solving and collaborative thinking. Working with art practitioners and craftspeople, the ConV program of conjoined skill and knowledge sharing will develop each village’s economic and creative autonomy. It is an opportunity to understand how rural communities can remain sustainable and engaging places to live, work and visit. The outcome of the project, a user manual, will propose a new anchored framework for how art can better engage with, and support, rural communities.


Motivated by a detected need for new tools to promote cooperation across Europe’s peripheral regions, the Confederacy will support the circulation of people and skills to nurture a model of mutual care and solidarity. It will reactivate vernacular economies in areas which have proven vulnerable to recent socio-economic transformations. To promote a sustainable and longterm impact, audiences and creative professionals will be provided with tools and resources to initiate autonomous actions in their own village.


As part of my artistic research, I participated in formulating the EU project application. In April 2020 it was accepted in the EU Creative Europe program. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, the initiation of the project was postponed. However, we have recently been able to put several activities into action in the participating villages. I will hold a series of research activities that explores forest kitchen ecologies. The project will take place at KF-Huset in the village of Klöse, Västerbotten. Today, huge acres of the surrounding forests have been transformed into tree plantation landscapes, the timber industry have led to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. The project investigates infrastructures that can facilitate artistic processes that explores alternative ways of relating to the forest as an economic resource and alternative to the conventional linear systems of the timber industry. During the process, I have initiated a collaboration between KF Huset, the local wood craft practitioner Ledusjö Timmerhus, ConV artists, architects, biologists, chefs, a local cultivation initiative and young people from the region. The purpose is to explore old cooking traditions. Stories, in the form of ingredients, will be collected from the nearby forest and river, for example berries, mushrooms, spruce shoots and clams to mention a few. We will design a public outdoor kitchen, with a smokehouse, wood stove and compost systems, for social interaction and communal cooking. The goal of the project is to develop a communal public living environment that functions as a classroom and uses culinary experiences to rediscover and reconnect with forgotten relationships to the forest and river.

Centerpieces and Companions Conclusion

For anyone who has experienced forced displacement, the feeling of a place of uncertainty might be familiar. At least this was what I felt as a six-year-old child, when my parents and I were forced to flee from Chile to Sweden. Still today, I think of those feelings every day, that I took for granted and suddenly were taken away from me. Like the sun, rising behind the monumentality of the Andes by the Atacama Desert, its earthly colored tones, making place for the remote small town Tocopilla. I remember the sound of the Pacific Ocean hitting its rocky coast. And every evening observing the sun towards the never-ending horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Since then, these memories and the emotions connected with them have been my companions. They are the centerpieces of my sense of belonging to the planet. Today, I can reflect on how the penurious landscapes of extremes in the north of Sweden and its rivers give me the same feelings – and many other territories too. Still, finding that sense of belonging again, never happens without making the effort to really get to know places. For a territory to become one’s companion, one must work hard, learn and adapt to its conditions, landscapes, species, climates and speeds. It was the only way to fill that gap from growing up in a mental place of uncertainty. Therefore, I would like to start my conclusion arguing that we must collaborate and make a common effort to change trajectory. If not, everything we take for granted will fade away in front of our eyes, and soon, there will be no other places than places of uncertainty.

This project originates from the fact that my academic education and discipline have their roots in a western philosophy and a world view that have resulted in a global environmental crisis. I felt the urgency of getting out of the comfort zone, therefore, I set out on a kind of metamorphosing and de-colonialization journey. I wanted to change trajectory, expand and transform my personal and professional relationship with the world, both socially, culturally and philosophically. My journey started with a thought from Ernesto de Martini’s book, The End of the World21, in which he writes about territorial anxiety. The anthropologist Vito Teti22 uses the concept to describe what he refers to as “the fear of losing the centerpiece” – the point of reference, shared by individuals in traditional societies. Teti describes the individual, in the era of modernity, as completely free of nostalgia. The modern subject is a settler who lives permanently in non-places, a cosmopolitan without roots or sense of belonging.

I came to realize that I was this settler, de-territorialized, commodified and lost in the Cartesian idea.  The idea of humans as masters and possessors of nature, rather than belonging to nature. A toxic posture, contributing to global warming as we witness it. I understood in the early stages of this research project that my ways of teaching, as well as my discipline as a whole, is in urgent need of cultural transformation and new points of references. This is how I became interested in critical theory and thinkers that came to transform my perspective: Ingold, Spinoza, Guattari, Haraway, Braidotti, to name a few. Still, the most important influences have been the experiences shared with colleagues, communities, students, and experts from non-academic fields such as beekeepers, shepherds, farmers, craftsmen and activists.


My conclusion from this ongoing journey is that we have to challenge the conventions of our disciplines, to challenge global warming. The research activities I have presented, embody my experiences from the journey I have begun. I have collected stories to advance knowledge and replace narratives. The project has resulted in alternative communal spaces with the potential to become centerpieces. What I would refer to as monuments of companionship, that remediate relationships with one another, with the world and with worlds. Today, there is a new generation with no fear of losing the points of reference of modernity, colonialism and oppression – but rather demanding centerpieces of de-colonization and accountable transformation. Therefore, an important question to explore further is how art, design and architectural disciplines can contribute to this transformation while simultaneously rediscovering the discipline as a tool for companionship. Even if the works that I present are just at the beginning of something with perhaps no end – the goal at the end is not to end, but to continue metamorphosing to the rhythm of real territories of existence.

21 Martino, 2002

22 Teti, 2018

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